ISLAMABAD: Post-harvest losses at the farm level are the major constraint on the performance of Pakistan’s horticultural value chains, significantly reducing the marketable value of fruits and vegetables.

A study commissioned by the Asian Development Bank and carried out in cooperation with the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, finds that post-harvest losses are significant in apples (25 per cent), potatoes (20pc) and chillies (15pc) mainly due to manual and improper post-harvest management practices.

Pakistan’s fruit and vegetable sector is underperforming due to constraints that are institutional — with operational inefficiencies, weak coordination, and poor enforcement of rules and regulations; functional — with inefficient handling, transportation, storage and trading; and structural — with concentrated market power, unsuitable roads, equipment, and market facilities.

The study suggests that to reduce post-harvest losses, modern standard facilities and norms are needed to improve production — with mechanised harvesting and handling, standard weight and packing practices, and commodity-specific transportation; wholesaling — with infrastructural improvements and labour training for proper commodity handling; and allied support facilities — with paved roads, scientific storage, and continuous electricity supply.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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